Fantasia's Reality Check
In 2007, Fantasia joined the Broadway cast of The Color Purple, opening to rave reviews and standing ovations. With her musical achievements, tours, a best-selling book and a movie about her life, it appeared there was nothing she couldn't do.
Soon, Fantasia's meteoric rise turned into a troubling free fall. Sales for her second album were disappointing, and Fantasia says she started feeling the pressure as sole breadwinner for her family. Her financial problems—including almost losing her home—made headlines.
Fantasia gained 30 pounds, and her reputation took a hit when she missed numerous performances of The Color Purple. "I was on Broadway for a year," she says. "Toward the end, I kind of lost control. Everything was going down the drain."
Still, with success came a new set of challenges. Fantasia began supporting her entire family and left financial and career decisions to others. "I was young, fresh in the game, and I just wanted to sing, without really understanding that you still have to watch after everything that you have going for you," she says. "You have to take care of your money. You have to meet with your lawyers and look over your schedule and figure out what it is that you have going on. Because it could be too much. People could just be running you and using you and abusing your gift."
Fantasia says leaving her affairs in the hands of others is what landed her home on the auction block—not foreclosure, as had been reported in the media. "It was very embarrassing because I had people showing up at my house where my daughter is and they were asking, 'Could they come see it?'" she says.
Fantasia says she had never even seen a Broadway play before signing on to play Celie, a a physically and emotionally demanding role. and wasn't prepared physically or emotionally for the life of a Broadway performer"Here I am dealing with my situation, Fantasia's life—which is paying the bills, making sure everybody at home is straight," she says. "Then dealing with Broadway and dealing with this young lady who's being told she's ugly every day and going through so many things. It became an overload on me."
Fantasia finally saw a doctor after the curtain closed on her Broadway run. Two benign tumors were discovered on her vocal chords. "He told me, 'We've got to take these off, and it might be a chance where you might not be able to sing like you used to,'" she says.
The surgery was a success. "I couldn't work or sing for six weeks," she says. "But I'm good as gold now."
At the time, Fantasia still had others handling her affairs—and says she hit rock bottom when she found out she couldn't even afford a pizza. "The pizza lady says, 'Well, the card declined,'" she says. "At that point I knew that I had been mishandled. Because there should have been no way that there wasn't any pizza money."
Fantasia says she then experienced a moment of truth. "I couldn't go to anybody else in my home and ask them for anything because I had been doing everything."
Fantasia says the show has been a major reality check. "When I won [American Idol], I just wanted to see all of my family happy. And I created that monster," she says. "When I began to give, give, give, everybody was like: 'Hey, this is the good life. I can sit back home.'"
The show has also forced Fantasia's family to take a hard look at themselves. "A lot of times the cameras go with me on the road," she says. "So as they sit and watch, some of them have come up and said: 'Man, I'm sorry. I didn't even know. You work real hard.'"
After almost losing it all, Fantasia says she's learned some important lessons too. "I will say no with a quickness now," she says.
Fantasia has also learned to take back her life. "I have to be in control of it all," she says. "I'm glad that I went through it because now it has made me stronger and wiser, and I know that I can't allow people to just take control of my destiny."
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